John A. DeGasperis, Esq.

John DeGasperis Uses New York’s Son of Sam Law to Obtain $1.45 Million Verdict for NYPD Police Officer Injured on the Job!

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John A. DeGasperis, Esq. recently obtained a trial verdict for $1,450,000. The verdict was rendered in favor of a New York City Police Officer who was attacked on the job.

DeGasperis represented a female police officer that had been assigned to watch guard over a patient admitted to the mental health unit of a Staten Island hospital. The mentally ill patient had been arrested for criminal possession of a dangerous weapon just prior to his hospitalization. He was thought to be dangerous.

He was admitted to a hospital under police guard and handcuffed to the hospital bed. Shortly after his admission, the patient asked DeGasperis’ client for permission to use the restroom. The Officer carefully removed the handcuffs from the bed rail to allow the man an opportunity to use the restroom. Once freed, the patient attacked the Officer knocking her to the ground. The patient got on top of the Officer and punched and kneed her multiple times. He slammed her head into the floor. He then grabbed for the Officer’s gun. In doing so, the patient threatened to kill the officer multiple times. The Officer fought for her life, screaming for help while protecting her gun. Finally, another hospital patient intervened enabling hospital security time to subdue the patient.

DeGasperis’ client suffered a multitude of injuries including abdominal trauma, head trauma, and musculoskeletal injuries. The Officer suffered mental and emotional damages too, including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. She needed significant medical treatment. She lost two-and-a-half years from work due to the injuries she sustained in the attack, although she did eventually return to law enforcement.

DeGasperis filed suit on behalf of the Officer against her assailant. The Complaint contained causes of action for two intentional torts, i.e., assault and battery. DeGasperis had the assailant served with the Summons and Complaint in jail. He defaulted and never appeared in the action.

Here is where the story takes an interesting twist. Before his arrest, the patient had been involved in a police chase. Injuries were inflicted on him during the struggle with police so he filed a civil rights lawsuit against the NYPD seeking compensation for his injuries. He was awarded a sizeable settlement, but the New York’s Attorney General’s Office swooped in with an injunction before he ever collected a dime. The AG’s office acquired the injunction through New York’s “Son of Sam Law,” which was passed in an effort to prevent criminals from profiting from their crimes.

The trial took place in the New York Supreme Court, Ulster County. The verdict included $450,000 worth of compensatory damages for the Officer’s bodily injuries and economic losses. The other $1 million represented punitive damages against the assailant. The trial was held in New York State Supreme Court, Ulster County. It was DeGasperis’ first verdict over $1 million.

Punitive damages are designed to punish the wrongdoer. Punitive damages are awarded intended to prevent the wrongdoer from committing a similar act in the future, and punitive damages are also effective at setting examples for others. Punitive damages are reserved for conduct that amounts to malicious, evil, intentional, or particularly fraudulent acts. In this case, DeGasperis sought punitive damages for his client to punish the assailant for threatening and attempting to take the life of the officer.

According to DeGasperis, “The Officer’s assailant deserved to be punished. The man not only threatened to take my client’s life, but he attempted to do it too. He committed an attempted murder. He deserved to be punished with an award of punitive damages.”

Our client is grateful to be alive and for her training as a police officer that protected her. DeGasperis’ dedication to his client and knowledge of the law allowed him to successfully resolve this case for this Officer.